Movie Review: I Can Only Imagine, directed by Andrew and John Erwin (Five Stars)

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Movie Review: I Can Only Imagine, directed by Andrew and John Erwin

(Five Stars)

“Every feel like everything in your life is building to one big moment? This is it.”

Not just a really good Christian movie, a really good movie. Well written, well acted, well filmed and well produced. Based on the story behind MercyMe’s song by the same name.

“God can forgive you, I can’t.”

All about redemption, in many different forms.

“I saw God transform him from the man I hated to the man I wanted to become.”

Christian books and movies need to be good books and movies. They don’t get a bye because they are faith-based. This movie vindicates that opinion.

“The dad I wanted is about to leave me. How is that fair?”

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Movie Review: Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler

(Four Stars)

“In times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe.”

All the action fun we expect from Marvel movies, with a side of introspection and angst. Set in fictional Wakanda (approximately co-locus with Rwanda in Africa’s Great Rift Valley), the story revolves around the internal and external struggles of an technologically advanced nation which poses as poster child for third-world subsistence. Visually stunning.

“You are a good man, with a good heart. And it’s hard for a good man to be a king.”

Lots of conflict, loyalties and heroism. The focal point of all the angst is T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), king of Wakanda, but even his opponents have good lines. Quibble: if you know how to “turn off” vibranium, do you tell a CIA agent?

“They knew death was better than bondage.”

Lot of female empowerment, though Marvel’s idea of female power tends to have a prurient side. Among the notable women characters, Shuri (Letita Wright) almost steals the show.

“Don’t freeze.”

Movie Review: 12 Strong, directed by Nicolai Fuglsig. (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: 12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers, directed by Nicolai Fuglsig.

(Four Stars)

“Your mission will fail because you fear death.”

An old-fashioned war movie, based on the incredible true story of America’s first strike back after 9-11. The most engaging depiction is that of General Abdul Rashid Dostum, now vice president of Afghanistan. (All the quotes surrounding this review are by his character. There are as many quotable ones by the American characters, such as, “The only way home is winning.”)

“You have many men over you; I have over me, only God.”

Extremely violent. Much of the violence is bloodless, but much is very bloody. Ten percent shorter would have been ten percent better. The men who were there say Continue reading

Movie Review: Darkest Hour, directed by Joe Wright (Five Stars)

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Movie Review: Darkest Hour, directed by Joe Wright
Five Stars

“You can not reason with a Tiger when your head is in its mouth.” WC

Excellent costumes, setting and photography. Yes, it’s a lot of dialogue by old, white, rich English men, but it’s important stuff, even–no, especially today. An intimate view at May 1940, the month that may have changed history, from what was likely to what seemed impossible. Incredible performance by Gary Oldman (and the makeup artists).

“Will you stop interrupting me while I am interrupting you!” WC

A relatively painless history lesson. Sometimes real leaders aren’t popular, even within their own party, not that the director meant it to endorse Trump or his style. (And not to suggest that either Trump or Obama were Churchillian leaders.)

“He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.” Viscount Halifax

(Director Krennic is king, good heavens!)

 

Movie Review: The Last Jedi, directed by Rian Johnson (Five Stars)

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Movie Review: The Last Jedi (Star Wars Episode VIII), directed by Rian Johnson

Five Stars

“I’ve seen this raw strength only once before. It didn’t scare me enough then. It does now.”

These days I go to Stars Wars movies with trepidation. You see, I saw the first (later called Episode IV) in 1977, the first week it opened. I’ve seen each one since. Some were stinkers. The Last Jedi was not. In fact, it’s one of the best of the lot.

“Everything you just said was wrong.”

There’s hardly anything I can say that won’t be a spoiler. Except there’s lots of reversals and unexpected. Leavened with a bit of humor.

“Something inside me has always been there, but now it’s awake and I need help.”

I went in with one big expectation, and they nailed it in the most satisfying way. Not for everyone, but lots of fun.

“I want every gun we have to fire on that man. Do it.”

Movie Review: Pixar’s Coco, directed by Lee Unkrich (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: Pixar’s Coco, directed by Lee Unkrich

Four Stars

A visually and emotionally pleasing original story about a living boy’s visit to his family in the land of the dead. Sympathetic portrayal of Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos. Warm relationships. Music and family are big themes.

Before taking children to see it, parents may wish to have an age-appropriate discussion about the afterlife. A lot of it is played for laughs, but issues presented may be unsettling to young children.

 

Movie Review: The Man Who Invented Christmas, directed by Bharat Nalluri (Five Stars)

the_man_who_invented_christmasMovie Review: The Man Who Invented Christmas, directed by Bharat Nalluri

Five Stars

“No one is useless in this world,”

Outstanding. A mashup of historical biography and fantasy. Nalluri, Coyne and Standiford take viewers into the soul of Charles Dickens as he almost doesn’t create A Christmas Carol in 1843. The pace and production values exactly match the theme. Dan Stevens is great; Christopher Plummer is incredible.

“We must not disturb the poet when the divine frenzy is upon him.”

Before seeing it, remind yourself of both the story and Dicken’s biography, otherwise nothing that follows will seem quite so wondrous. Before taking children to see this, adults should see it Continue reading

Movie Review: Justice League, directed by Zach Snyder (Three Stars)

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Movie Review: Justice League, directed by Zach Snyder

Three Stars

“Without reason, without love, [science] destroys itself.”
Like most DC and marvel offerings, it’s good, clean fun. Don’t expect too much, and you won’t be disappointed.
“To lead, you step into the light and say to people, this is worth your life.”
The plot was–dare I say it–comic book-ish; the acting was fair, and the special effects looked like special effects. It is what it is.
“I believe in truth, but I also a big fan of justice.”

 

Movie Review: Murder on the Orient Express, directed by Kenneth Branagh (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: Murder on the Orient Express, directed by Kenneth Branagh

Four Stars

“If it were easy, I would not be famous.”

Excellent period piece movie. Meticulously staged and photographed. All-star cast. Lots of fun.

“The criminal act is the anomaly. It takes a fractured soul to kill another human being.”

Inevitable comparison with the 1974 version: this one has a bigger pallet. Scenes set in Jerusalem and Istanbul as well as outside the train give the cinematographer a bigger canvas on which he painted with impressionistic color and drama. Branagh makes a better Poirot than Finney, but no one could take those mustaches seriously.

“Romance never goes unpunished.”

Why not five stars? The movie seemed too aware of itself. Bordered on melodrama.

“Did we die?”

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2, written and directed by James Gunn (Three Stars)

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Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, written and directed by James Gunn

Three Stars

“Sometimes that thing you search for your whole life is right by your side all along; you just don’t know it.”

Now this is popcorn for the brain. Mindless, comic book-style action. But … wait, there’s more there’s an understrata of subplots about relationship, especially familial ones.

“I can only afford to lose one friend today.”

Love the music, but then I was just out of college when Looking Glass’ “Brandy” topped the pop charts.

“You’ll be just like everyone else.” “What’s so wrong with that?”